The RGV Matters is a youth-led organization that was founded in 2017 by recent McAllen ISD graduate Sydney Ramon. The organization’s main focus is to work within the community to further educate and empower the community.
Q: Why was it so important for y’all to host this forum?
A: I think what made it really special is that we haven’t really had a lot of school board candidate forums in the past few years. There hasn’t really been anything for the community to learn about these candidates in a public way. This race, though, was just so prominent and important. All of the incumbents that were up for re-election had challengers. These challengers were bringing up issues that they thought were wrong with the school district, and the incumbents were fighting back. It created a really great narrative.
We wanted to try to give the community the opportunity to make educated choices. In this race especially, they had the opportunity to vote out all of the incumbents and totally switch the district’s position. We wanted the opportunity to set the tone for that conversation. I think that was something really vital.
In addition to the forum, we were also able to hold text banks in partnership with Texas Youth Rising, and that was also all youth-led. We messaged voters and gave them polling locations, dates and times.
Our whole goal of the forum and the text banks was to really try to educate the community in an attempt to kill voter apathy.
Q: What else are y’all doing to educate the community?
A: Since the forum we’ve switched over, and we’re focusing more on our website an online presence now. We are doing profiles that we’re calling Grand Profiles where we focus on interviewing community leaders, activists and public leaders. Also we talk about their careers, the work they do and how they were able to find success in the Rio Grande Valley.
We also do our podcasts, which are mainly meant as an avenue for advice and inspiring stories.
Q: Tell me a bit about the team at The RGV Matters that works with you.
A: Those people are awesome. They’ve all been with me from the very beginning when I started this.
- Alyssa Yarritu is currently Miss Rio Grande Valley Teen USA. She uses her title in many ways in the community, and one of those is being head of event coordination for us. She is a huge help with venues and planning.
- Dagoberto Gutierrez is my right hand. He’s very detailed oriented and can get anything done that we need.
- Mia Aleman does a bit of everything. When I’m not here, she’s the person that oversees everything and makes sure it all runs correctly.
- Briana Pedraza a panelist at our MISD forum.
- Mariella Vela handles social media and photography.
- Yasmeen Medrano takes care of social media and our website.
Q: What’s the vision moving forward? What are you hoping to accomplish in the next five or 10 years?
A: I’m planning on majoring in political science with a minor in communications. I’m really hoping that I can learn how to expand my knowledge of what it takes to truly reach out to people to engage an audience. In the next five years, I’m hoping that it continues to grow, and we’re able to do more profiles and podcasts all across the Valley. The big future goal is that I want to be able to offer a scholarship fund for youth to go to college. I know that will take time, but that’s what we’re working toward.
Ultimately, I really want it to be education based and help foster exciting opportunities within the Rio Grande Valley. That’s what the vision always has been for me. I want it to be something that is truly lasting and makes an impact on our community.